Rotherham United v Swansea City: A 'challenging' week for Wayne Carlisle, but an experience to cherish as Millers finalise Leam Richardson appointment

AFTER Rotherham United’s game last weekend, Wayne Carlisle headed down to his family home in Devon - unsure whether he would be making the long north-bound journey on Britain’s motorway network back to work in South Yorkshire.

The Millers players had their Christmas party and were given Sunday and Monday off.

For Carlisle and his interim management team, it was not just a brief pause after preparing the team for three games in the space of eight days, but possibly goodbye; probably.

The man himself certainly thought so.

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Rotherham United interim manager Wayne Carlisle. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.Rotherham United interim manager Wayne Carlisle. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.
Rotherham United interim manager Wayne Carlisle. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

Nathan Jones had been offered the chance to become the Millers’ permanent replacement to Matt Taylor - sacked three weeks earlier.

Another quirk in what has become a bit of a mini-saga since Taylor’s departure on November 13 saw the Welshman, who watched the club in action at Birmingham City last Saturday, turn down that chance.

At the end of this week, it is now Leam Richardson who has been lined up for the full-time post and he is expected to be confirmed soon.

For the time being, it is Carlisle who is entrusted with navigating Saturday’s game with another managerless side in Swansea City.

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Back home with the family in the south west six days ago, it is something he did not envisage.

Football can be full of surprises and one thing Carlisle has learned is to solely focus on what he can control.

Carlisle said: “It was nice to go back to Devon and spend some time with the family as I haven’t seen them for a while.

"I suppose the biggest thing then was the uncertainty. I was expecting a phone call on Sunday and it didn’t come.

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"Monday, it didn’t come and I thought: ‘Right, I need to get back up here’ because we need to get ourselves ready for Tuesday (training).

"Then, as the days go on, you sort of think: ‘you know what, I can’t worry about this, it’s out of my control - all I can do is do what I do’.

“Towards the back end of the week, it’s reared itself again with rumours and stuff.

"I don’t worry about those things and cannot control them. All I can do is look after what I am doing.

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"I was expecting some sort of solution on Saturday or Sunday. This week has been particularly challenging due to the fact we have gone day to day.

“Some days you're driving in not sure whether there's going to be someone there or not. All we can do is plan, get ourselves organised and put on our best face for the players."

It’s not been straightforward for Carlisle, for sure, but as part of his second career in football, post playing, it has been an invaluable experience and one he is unlikely to forget in a hurry. A sunny disposition has helped.

The Northern Irishman, trusted assistant to Taylor in his time with the Millers after previously working with him at Exeter City, has made no bones about his desire to strike out on his own and be a full-time ‘number one’ at some point.

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Just as players have aspirations to better themselves, so did coaches and managers.

"It’s been a live job interview to a certain degree," continued Carlisle.

"If the club haven’t seen it that way, I’ve certainly seen it that way, whether it’s for Rotherham United or a prospective club in the future.

"You can go on any course, but the only way to get any real learning is to do it with experience and I am fortunate to have had that experience."

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Carlisle counts himself as fortunate to have a quorum of senior players around him who have experienced most things on offer over the course of a footballer’s career and lived to tell the tale.

Good players and people of the ilk of Sean Morrison and Lee Peltier, part of the interim management team in the interregnum between Paul Warne leaving the Millers in the autumn of 2022 and Taylor taking over.

Carlisle added: “We have got proper people at the club - Sean Morrison, Lee Peltier, Jordan Hugill, Grant Hall, Sam Clucas... We have got a leadership group that we talk to and lean on.

"I am a big believer in players’ ownership and autonomy and letting those guys manage things to a certain degree in regards to dressing rooms.

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"They had done that very, very well for me which has made my life a lot easier in that sense. I am very lucky and understand I have been lucky.

"It’s been a new experience, but I like people and I like believing and trusting people and that’s how we’ve gone about it. I know football and understand coaching and training and tactics.

"That’s actually the easy part, the hardest part is dealing with people and making sure they have smiles on their faces and know what they are doing."